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Single portal: Helping businesses access EU finance

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By offering information on how companies can access more than €100 billion of EU financing, the single portal on EU finance is helping entrepreneurs and SMEs in Europe face some of the major problems hampering their development. The user-friendly portal acts as a gateway to opportunities provided by more than 1 000 EU-supported banks and other financial institutions.

With banks and other investors taking fewer risks and becoming much more hesitant when it comes to funding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), information and access to EU funding is more important for businesses than ever before. Over the last two years, almost one-third of the SMEs applying for bank loans were refused or ended up getting less than requested.

In response to the increasing difficulty to find funds and investors, the European Commission launched a single portal on EU finance, which provides easy, complete and up-to-date information on how entrepreneurs and SMEs can access more than €100 billion of EU financing from various programmes for the period 2007-2013. The portal now also includes EU Structural Funds such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The new additions have doubled the number of partner banks and funds to more than 1 000, further strengthening a vital information source for SME financing through guarantees, loans and venture capital.

Information on EU financial instruments

The Commission’s series of initiatives intend to support SMEs – which act as a key driver of economic growth and employment – by helping them tackle the problems which hamper their development. The EU financial instruments for SMEs include the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), Progress Microfinance, the Risk-Sharing Instrument (FP7), European Investment Bank (EIB) loans and now Member States’ national and regional Operational Programmes implementing cohesion policy objectives.

Under the EU´s cohesion policy 2007-2013, more than €3.6 billion had already been invested in enterprises at the end of 2011 through almost 68 000 loans, guarantees, venture capital/equity and other financial products.

By the end of 2011, a total of 484 specific funds for businesses (loan, guarantee, equity/venture capital and other) were set up in 25 Member States and one cross-border cooperation region. Overall, €69.7 billion from the ERDF and ESF went towards SME support – this goes up to at least €95.4 billion if the national co-financing is taken into account. By the end of December 2012, the financial instruments of the CIP Programme mobilised almost €13 billion of guarantees and more than €2.3 billion of venture capital. More than 220 000 SMEs have already benefited from the programme across Europe.

‘One of the key priorities for the Commission is to simplify and reduce the obstacles that businesses face. We also want to encourage Member States and regions to use EU financial instruments, as they can enhance the impact of cohesion policy. They are catalysts for crucial investments needed to provide a vital boost to the European economy and create jobs.’ – European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship


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